Crisis management – the role of the company website


Out of the blue, a crisis or problem can arise at any time for any business – from a single disgruntled customer letting off steam on social media to a full-fledged product recall or a trust or reputation issue (call back you the offensive Savill’s employee?), these things come in all shapes and sizes.

It stands to reason that most businesses will have a comprehensive crisis communications plan that incorporates various off-page elements, but when a problem arises, a company’s website should become the primary source of information for the public, the media and other stakeholders. The beauty of a website is that it is owned by a medium – the company’s own tool with which it can disseminate information to the world without any other party necessarily being involved.

Social networks are a crisis

Unfortunately, social media often takes center stage for a number of reasons: it’s quick and easy for stakeholders to post their opinions, and just as effective for the business in question to respond – sometimes unintentionally adding more. fuel to the flames.

While communication during a crisis needs to be direct, social media often doesn’t allow for a nuanced approach or adequate word count to really get the job done right. Of course, this can help amplify a post, but it usually makes sense for the original version to be put in context on the company’s website with a reasonable explanation of the situation, not limited to 280 characters or the like.

Hosting content on the company’s website is also reminiscent of other areas of work, products, services, culture, etc. for which the company is well regarded – a more positive backdrop or frame of reference than might be possible on social media. Quite often companies in these situations are vilified for a problem (sometimes seemingly minor in the case of ‘M&S Colin the caterpillar cake‘gate) when in reality customers are always happy to continue to deal with them on other fronts.

A question-and-answer document, hosted on the company’s website can be a simple but effective way to deal with the many questions that arise during a crisis and can be used in its entirety via a link or in small pieces on the website. social networks if guaranteed.

How to Handle a Social Media Crisis is a blog post (or more!) In itself, but it pays to remember that it usually pays to move the discussion or issue / crisis off social media if possible. . Some platforms will allow the account owner to hide customer feedback without the person’s knowledge, which can give the business time to plan and respond before things get out of hand.

To continue on the topic of spam comments, it is obviously not a good policy to silence customers, but it can be useful to suspend the ability for people to comment on blog posts, customer reviews or other areas of the company website until the issue is resolved. And unless the team managing a site’s chat feature has been made aware of and agrees with the crisis, it may also be beneficial to turn that feature off for a period of time as well.

Video content

In the past, a major crisis would have led the spokesperson for the company to tour the various broadcasters, all eager to get their piece of flesh. However, a business can now record its message and broadcast it to the world from the comfort of its own premises for a faster reaction and a much less stressful situation for the spokesperson. And as the situation evolves, the company can continue to film as needed, not just make on-air statements when the media calls.

From a PR standpoint, it can always be advantageous to select appropriate media interviews to reach a wider audience and help rebuild trust (hiding behind pre-planned content won’t do the job). However, a company no longer has to wait to be approached, it can broadcast its message directly and host it on its website.

Not only is video the most consumed type of content (in 2020, 96% of consumers increased their consumption of online videos, and 9 in 10 viewers said they wanted to see more videos from brands and companies) but in times of crisis, nothing like seeing the whites of someone’s eyes and hearing the tone of someone’s voice.

Video content should be optimized and shared on the company’s blog, but it can also then be hosted on YouTube and published on other social media platforms. As above, it is better if the content is embedded on the company’s website and shared from there, rather than directly from YouTube without any context.

A keyword optimized transcript or blog post from the interview is also helpful from an SEO perspective. It may seem counterintuitive to help search engines find your crisis content – but if people are already searching, it is best if a company’s carefully positioned, undiluted, and uncompromising content can be found next door. from any media coverage.

Signage

Once the content is live on the site, and depending on the importance of the problem, it may be useful to report this information to website visitors, especially when an individual accesses the home page through a search. direct because he already knew the URL or had already done so. bookmarked it.

Adding additional wording with relevant links to the content is the obvious fix here or adding a pop-up that can offer different routes to different areas of the site.

Media vs public visitors

When a major crisis strikes, businesses are often faced with an influx of calls from customers and clients as well as journalists and the media. This is extremely beneficial if a website has a dedicated media center at all times, but in times of crisis it is a real must.

While any member of the public could access this space (so keep this in mind when creating content such as press releases), it will save marketing and PR teams endless time to respond to inquiries. individual requests.

If a website has had a media center for some time, it’s also worth considering whether any of that content might do more harm than good in the midst of a crisis. Do you want your spokesperson images to be easily accessible to the press or do you prefer more control?

Contact details

Sometimes one-to-many communication isn’t adequate and customers want the reassurance of personal interaction – often a one-to-one phone call.

When time is of the essence, it’s often best to have a tight-knit team that understands the issues inside and out. Therefore, it is useful to direct customers to a dedicated call center or someone who knows the positioning and the message that the company needs to convey.

Ensuring that the best contact phone numbers or emails are communicated on the site (or in the new pop-up) can mean the rest of the business can continue as normal with an assigned SWAT team on hand to help them. take care of the rest.

Every crisis is different and there will be specific issues that arise in some situations and not in others, which makes writing a useful article on crisis management quite tricky.

Digital and SEO teams may not seem like the obvious choice of staff to include in a crisis team, but they can play a huge role in helping deal with a situation and making sure the website is running hard and in the right place. best interest of the business.


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